Postpartum Infection

What are postpartum infections?

There are many different types of infections that develop during the postpartum period. While rare (5-7% of postpartum women), some can be serious and life-threatening if not treated. The most common types of infection are surgical site infections (SSIs) and endometritis. Other postpartum infections include mastitis (breast infections) and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Endometritis is also known as a uterine infection. It’s more common after cesarean deliveries, but still occurs after 1-2% of vaginal births. SSIs are when the surgical wound following caesarean section (or rarely, the perineal tear or episiotomy wound) gets infected. The occurrence decreases dramatically when the patient receives a preventative antibiotic, which is routine after cesarean deliveries and when Group B strep is found.

What are the risk factors for postpartum infections?

The following increase the risk for postpartum infections:

  • Cesarean delivery
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Frequent cervical examination
  • Internal fetal monitoring
  • Preexisting pelvic infection including bacterial vaginosis
  • Diabetes
  • Nutritional status
  • Obesity

What are the symptoms of Postpartum Infection?
  • Hot/pink breasts
  • Sore lump in breast
  • Fever (over 38℃ or 100.4℉)
  • Discharge, pain or redness that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • Uterine pain (in your lower abdomen)
  • Bad smelling lochia (vaginal discharge)
  • Pain or burning when you urinate

What is the treatment for Postpartum Infection?

Infections are treated with antibiotics, which may be administered via IV if severe.

Who can help diagnose/treat Postpartum Infection?
  • OB/Gyn
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP)


Reviewed By
  • Reviewed by Kimberly Langdon M.D September 2019